In a recent study, marine experts led by the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) analyzed the most severe threats facing the world’s marine environment and estimated that the cost of damage from global warming could reach $2 trillion a year by 2100 if measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions are not stepped up.
Without action, the global average temperature could rise by 4 degrees Celsius by the end of the century causing ocean acidification, sea level rise, marine pollution, species migration and more intense tropical cyclones. It would also threaten coral reefs, disrupt fisheries and deplete fish stocks.
The loss of tourism would incur the highest cost at $639 billion per year. The loss of the seas’ ability to soak up carbon dioxide (CO2) would cost almost $458 billion. Warmer water holds less CO2.
If cuts in emissions were carried out more urgently and temperature increases were limited to 2.2 degrees C, nearly $1.4 trillion of the total cost could be avoided. However, such progress would require the widespread use of radical carbon removal technologies, like sucking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.
The study did not put a monetary value on the loss of some species which inhabit the world’s oceans, critical processes like nutrient cycling or the loss of coastal communities’ traditional ways of life.